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#IlynaApartment – November 25, 2017
Halisi raises an eyebrow, a soft chuckle escaping her and a faint, sympathetic smile crossing her lips. "Sorry? What do you have to be sorry for?" she asks, placing a hand on Ilyna's knee in an attempt at reassurance. "You haven't done anything wrong, Ilyna. And I appreciate your trust." she adds, leaning slightly forward to try and catch a better glimpse of the elusive asari's face.
Ilyna closes her eyes, still looking away. She tenses up at the hand placed on her knee. "I had a feeling that... moment would come," she mutters, "and I... I should have said something. Maybe told you I wasn't... interested.... I feel like I lead you on."
Halisi lowers her gaze, withdrawing her hand when she realizes it's had the opposite of the intended effect. "I-..." she lets out a quiet sigh, a slightly saddened look crossing her face at Ilyna's words. "Ilyna... please don't-... the last thing I want is for you too feel guilty, or uncomfortable. Look, I... I just want you to know that I care about you. That I think you're a wonderful person. And... that I'm still here. In...
Ilyna sighs. "That's... the problem, I care about you too, a... lot," she murmurs, tears welling up under her closed eyes. "I... long for the normalcy I cannot have, to just be... a mother, a bondmate and... and..." She shakes her head. "Alyssa showed me that I could, but... I couldn't be there for her when it mattered the most."
Halisi frowns slightly, letting out a quiet sigh at her inability to ease Ilyna's troubles, and so settles for listening in silence. After a few moments of quiet she carefully asks: "You... mentioned her before. Who is she?"
Ilyna is quiet for a few seconds, a tear rolling down her cheek. "She is also someone I had... these feelings for," she says. "And for a while... it worked. It felt so right, but...." She frowns. "The authorities at home sent someone to intervene," she mutters bitterly, "and... so I couldn't be there when her own past caught up to her."
Halisi lifts a hand to her mouth, making her own assumptions about what happened. "Ilyna, I-... I'm so sorry." she says, her voice quiet. She places a hand gently on her back when she notices the escaping tear, letting out a sigh as she strokes her back. She opens her mouth to speak, but finds herself unsure what to say, letting silence take over.
Ilyna is still turned towards the table with her eyes closed, showing no reaction to the hand on her back. "I don't know... what I fear most," she says. "That I'm... headed down an unknown, maybe perilous path, or...," she "that they're waiting for me to cross a line they've drawn, because... I... I know they're paying attention."
Halisi furrows her eyebrows. "They're watching you?" she asks almost immediately, sounding both surprised and almost a little outraged.
Ilyna opens her eyes, and brings up her omni-tool. She taps a few times and opens up an incident report from the Miner's Respite dated August 28 2185, while much of Redrock's staff (Ilyna included) were on their way back from the Di Yu job. The text details the sequence of events, but Ilyna points to the picture taken by the security camera; it depicts a dark blue asari with sharp red markings in light armor.
"Menarae," she whispers. "I... don't know how... surveilled I am, but... they haven't forgotten about me."
Halisi frowns as she looks at the report, her gaze turning to the picture as Ilyna points. "I had no idea..." she says quietly. Her gaze falls to the table as her hand withdraws again, joining her other in her lap. "I... can't imagine what it's like to be under that kind of scrutiny. To... always worry that you'll cross a line, or that someone will find out... it must be hard." She glances over at her again, reaching for her
Ilyna shuts off her omni-tool as Halisi takes her hand, and she takes a deep breath. "That is... the only thing I could find in our reports, so... I don't know what she wanted," she says. "If she... wanted to get to me, then... she has had every chance to." Ilyna reaches for Halisi's hand with her other free hand. "It's difficult," she says, "but... it's... people like you that reminds me there's a reason to...." she
Halisi leaves her hand with Ilyna's as she listens to her. "Take your time." she says softly. "I'm not going anywhere." She reaches into her purse, pulling out a package of tissues and holding it out for the asari to take.
Ilyna takes the tissue with a subtle nod of thanks and starts wiping under her eyes. "If it wasn't for my mother's refusal to do what was expected of her,... if it wasn't for Enila's support when leaving the military,... I wouldn't be here today," she sighs. "I've felt like I've taken more than I've given all my life," she says. "But out here...," she looks up at Halisi. "I found purpose. I wasn't an inconvenience
Halisi offers a gentle smile, nodding slightly. "That's good. Important. And I think you belong out here. What you've built? With Li, and with Redrock, that's proof of that. But you can't look at life like a set of scales to be balanced. Giving and taking. That's not how it works. We help the people we care about when we can. And sometimes we're the ones that need help. And that's... okay."
Ilyna gives a nod and shifts a little closer. "I... do understand that," she says. "It's... because of the support I have received that I'm able to give." She takes her tissue away from under her eye, but it doesn't take long for moisture to well up again. "It wouldn't be possible on my own, and... I cannot thank you enough."
Halisi 's smile remains. "I'm happy to help." she repeats. A sentiment she's voiced more than once before. Her gaze falls as she continues, her smile fading. "I-... I don't know what all this means. For... well..." she trails off, giving a small shrug. She's obviously referring to their situation, but not quite sure how to voice it. "Just-... I'm not going anywhere. Alright? Not unless that's what you want. If... it is, then I
understand. You... you decide what this is. Or... isn't. I just hope there's some part for me in your life, whatever form that may take. Co-worker... friend..." she trails off. Her words all sound sincere, although there's hints of both nervousness and sadness in her tone.
Ilyna turns to look at the table again, her breathing getting shaky and tears trickles down her cheeks. "Goddess, I... I so want there to be more," she sobs, "but... I don't know if it's wise... or right." Ilyna takes a deep breath as she tries to compose herself. "This... is why I'm so exhausted today," she says. "I was lying awake until early morning thinking about our talk in my office. About... us."
Halisi frowns, offering a sympathetic look and a squeeze of Ilyna's hand. It's not hard to tell that her unease grows with these words, and she struggles to keep herself in check as Ilyna sobs. She bites down on her tongue, drawing in a long breath through her nose. After some silence passes she speaks. "I... well, I don't think I've made any secret of how I feel." she says with a small, slightly shaky chuckle. "I... hope you
don't mind me saying, but... I-... I think you're exceptional, Ilyna. You're kind. Brave. Strong. Beautiful." she pauses slightly, her gaze falling for a moment before looking back at her. "And, uhm... if... well, I'm here. I... understand it's a very complicated situation... but... if you want there to be more? I'm here. If not? Still here. And... I don't want you to feel any pressure to make a decision. There's no
rush... I'm not going to run off, promise." Another slightly shaky chuckle follows the final comment, and a faint smile crosses her lips.
Ilyna continues to sob as Halisi speaks, the only confirmation that she is listening being her blushing at the compliments. "I... I... meant what I said," she mutters. "I want this, but...." She trails off and shifts closer, leaning slightly on Halisi. "How... how can you call me strong when you see me like this... mess of uncontrolled feelings?"
Halisi wraps her arm around Ilyna, another subdued chuckle sounding, her smile lingering but gaining a nuance of sadness at Ilyna's sobbing. "You've been dealing with this stress for centuries. I think you're allowed a lapse of composure every now and then, hm?" she asks, giving her another squeeze and encouraging her to lean more heavily against her.
Ilyna takes her encouragement, leaning closer and laying her head on her shoulder. "I... suppose you're right," she mutters between sobs. "Thank you...."
Halisi rests her chin on top of Ilyna's head, giving her another sideways hug. "That's right I am. Doc always knows best." she snickers, putting on false bravado in an attempt to lift Ilyna's spirits with humor. When she hears the sobbing continue she gives her a small shake. "Hey, hey, hey, it's okay. We'll... we'll figure this out, hm?"
Ilyna gives a slight hum to acknowledge her words, but she doesn't say anything. She closes her eyes, and takes a few deep breaths. Her sobbing is soon reduced to a slight tremble in her breath. If left undisturbed, it's likely that the tired asari will doze off — if she hasn't done os already.
Halisi seems fine with acting as pillow for the time being, keeping her arm around Ilyna's back, but moving her hand to her shoulder, brushing her thumb back and forth across her neck as the exhausted asari dozes off. A faint smile crosses her lips when she realizes Ilyna has fallen asleep. She just slightly adjusts the way she's sitting to be more comfortable, being careful not to disturb her, and then remains there in
Ilyna is without a doubt asleep, the tremble in her breath has gone away and her expression has turned neutral and peaceful. Halisi's movements does not seem to have waken her up.
Halisi remains where she is, not wishing to disturb Ilyna's sleep, and quite content herself just to be close to her. Her mind continues to dwell on the conversation they've just had as she watches the snowflakes fly by in the increasingly harsh winds outside, only visible in the darkness when they come close enough to be illuminated by the lights in the apartment. She ends up leaning her head against Ilyna's, and after many
minutes of quiet contemplation she finds her own eyes closing as sleep finds her despite the somewhat uncomfortable, seated position.